The Mérida International Classical Theater Festival is the oldest classical theater festival held in Spain and is considered the most important of its kind.
The festival theatrical plays are presented annually, during the months of July and August in the Roman Theater of Mérida. This monument is considered one of the world’s best representations of the solidity and harmony of Roman architecture erected during the time of Emperor Augustus. It is also the oldest functioning theater in the world.
In total, 68 editions of the festival have already been held, each one attracting tens of thousands of spectators, making it one of the leading theater festivals in Spain.
The Festival began its journey in 1933 with the staging of Medea by Seneca, a version by Miguel de Unamuno with Margarita Xirgu acting as the protagonist. Due to the political tension in Spain, it was suspended in 1934 until 19 years later. In 1953, it was reinstated with the performance of a play called Fedra put on by a university theater company.
In 1954 professional theater returned to Mérida with the showing of Oedipus by Sophocles performed by Francisco Rabal. From then to date it has been celebrated without interruption, hosting performances of the greatest works of the Greco-Latin Classical Theater on its two-thousand-year-old stages.
Jesús Cimarro and his company Pentación Espectáculos, directs and manages the festival from 2012 to the present. The Junta de Extremadura awarded Pentación Espectáculos the direction and management of the Festival from 2016 to 2022 by public tender.
Between editions 58 and 68, locals started to attend and the influx of public from the rest of Spain also increased significantly, turning the summer festival into one of the three most important cultural events nationwide, according to the national press.
89 years ago the actress Margarita Xirgu continued with a task that she had started more than 20 centuries ago: to perform the great Greek and Roman comedies and tragedies on those thousand-year-old stones, and participate in the history of the Performing Arts.
On its stage, the most prestigious national and international theater professionals –actors, actresses, musicians, directors, authors, lighting designers, costume designers– have participated throughout its 68 editions, becoming a part of history.